Building a Classroom Community Through Narrative Poetry

Today’s #TeachLivingPoets post is brought to you by guest writer, Matt Brisbin. Mr. Brisbin teaches English at McMinnville High School in McMinnville, Oregon, and has been a high school English instructor for 12 years. Aside from reading and writing, his passions in life include spending time with his family and cheering on various sports teams at the high school, college, and professional levels. You can follow him on Twitter @Mbrisbin11.

logoFebruary is always the time of the year that my students’ energy starts to fade. There is something about the long winters, when the sun goes down early that tends to take a toll on all of us slogging through another school year. I usually save this activity for just these times, because it has been a sure fire way to not only increase my students’ morale and give them some seeds for writing, but it’s also is a great way to continue building a community of learners. This year, I added two spoken word poems by Phil Kaye to add another layer to this lesson, and I was really happy with the way it worked out. Continue reading

Promoting Choice and Voice with Poetry Zines

Today’s #TeachLivingPoets post is brought to you by guest writer Dustin McConnell, an ELA teacher at Timberland High School in St. Stephen, South Carolina. This is his sixth year teaching, and he teaches English IV (11th-12th grade) and Creative Writing (9th-12th grade). He is currently working towards a masters in Library Media. Outside of school, he enjoys reading, writing, running, and spending time with his wife and dog, while awaiting the birth of his daughter in May.  You can follow Dustin on Twitter at @D_W_McConnell

logoIn an effort to provide my Creative Writing students with a culminating project for our poetry unit that gave students choice and voice, I had them create poetry zines.

If you are unfamiliar with zines, they are essentially self-published “magazines” that you can make out of an 8.5×11 inch sheet of printer paper, whatever craft or scrapbooking supplies you have on hand, and the artwork and/or writing you want to put inside of them. Once made, all you need to publish them is a photocopier or a scanner with a printer, and voila, you have a published piece of work to share with whomever you please. Continue reading

#TeachLivingPoets Stations

Today’s post is by guest author Angelina Murphy who teaches high school English in Los Angeles. She has her Masters in Education from University of California, Los Angeles where she focused her research on trauma-informed teaching and community of care. When she is not teaching, she also manages her blog about engaging teaching, technology, social justice, and teaching strategies at Magical Ms. Murphy.

logoWhen I first announced to my high school freshmen that we will start our poetry unit in class, I was met with groans and scoffs. While I was disappointed by this reaction, it also resonated with me. When I was their age, I felt similarly about poetry. Poetry was old. Not relatable. Difficult to understand. It was because of their reaction, and my familiarity to it, that I was determined to expose students to poetry that they would connect with and to prove that poetry does not live in the past. It is happening now.

Inspired by the Teach Living Poets movement, I was determined to teach students about the brilliant and diverse poets of today.

For this activity, I decided to do learning stations. I love incorporating learning stations in class because they are focused activities, along with kinesthetic learning, to get students moving and interested in a broad spectrum of a particular subject. Continue reading

Poetry Fridays: Making Poetry Part of Your Classroom Weekly Routine

capture9Today’s #TeachLivingPoets post comes from Kristin Runyon, who is in her 29th year teaching with 17 years at Charleston High School in Charleston, Illinois, and the other 12 years in Missouri, Kansas, and other Illinois schools. She has been a co-director and coach for Eastern Illinois Writing Project and a frequent participant with Eastern Illinois University Teaching with Primary Sources. She teaches English 3 (juniors) and Dual Credit Composition 1 and Dual Credit Introduction to Literature (seniors). She spent many years as Student Council adviser and as a soccer and baseball mom and now advises the CHS Press. Outside school, she enjoys reading, running, and traveling, especially to visit her sons.

logoThe amazing Carol Jago was the opening and closing keynote speaker at the Poetry Foundation’s Summer Poetry Teachers Institute. Her goal was to provide us a handful of poetry activities that we could use in our first days back in the classroom, and on the last day, Carol asked us to set a personal goal for incorporating poetry into our classrooms; my goal was to “do” poetry on the 2-hour early out Fridays that we have about every other week (class periods are 30-minutes long).

“Do” poetry; sounded easy enough because it was such a vague idea. In mid-August, about five weeks after the institute, I started the school year with a couple community bonding activities, including one of Carol’s poetry activities. And then, I began my units as I always do. My senior classes are dual credit composition 1, so how would I “do” poetry with them? And my junior classes? I have taught that curriculum for at least 18 years; I defaulted to autopilot. Continue reading

The Envelope Game – easy activity to use with any text tomorrow!

My students are reading Safia Elhillo’s poetry collection The January Children. We’ve had insightful class discussions, students are reading and annotating five poems every night, and today I wanted to do something more hands-on in small groups. Before we started reading the poems, we read Kwame Dawes’s foreword–a must-read, if you ask me. It prefaces her work with information about the allusions she frequently uses, where she draws inspiration, and even some of the main themes and motifs threaded throughout the collection. After establishing a foundation for understanding her poems, we’ve decided to take a closer look into the following while annotating:

These themes and motifs are where I drew from to make my items for The Envelope Game. I’m not going to pretend like this is some kind of innovative activity; it’s really  super simple. But it initiated robust discussion from my students and made them make connections that they hadn’t noticed before. In each envelope, I placed three cards. Each card had a theme, motif, symbol, or image important to the book. I mixed them up the cards to make it random, and handed an envelope to each small group.

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How a poem moves – a workshop with Terrance Hayes

I had looked forward to this workshop for MONTHS. Terrance Hayes! A small, intimate workshop! I am going to learn about poetry from one of the greatest poets writing today. AND I get to attend his reading the night before? Get. Out. Of. Town. I was beside myself.

img_8863.jpgLet’s start with the reading. Charlotte Lit sponsored a weekend with Terrance Hayes for their Beautiful Truth initiative. Held in a elegant, aged auditorium and flanked by artwork by local artists, Hayes opened his reading with an explanation of Wanda Coleman’s influence on his book, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin. (I highly suggest reading this interview with Hayes written by Hanif Abdurraqib in Poets & Writers magazine if you are reading Hayes’s book.) The first poem he read, which also happens to be my personal favorite, was this one: Continue reading

Poems to celebrate Black History Month

Today’s post is brought to you by educator extraordinaire and guest author, Cait Hutsell. Cait is a high school ELA teacher in North Central Florida. She has almost exclusively taught freshmen for seven years, but has also taught AP Lang, Yearbook, and sophomore English as well. Her superpower is reading ridiculously fast; she finished 164 books in 2018! Cait is currently vacillating between Masters programs and is a mom of one four year old, with another coming soon. Cait is involved in and supports #TeachLivingPoets, #DisruptTexts, #educolor, #ProjectLitChat, and #ClearTheAir. You can follow her on Twitter at @caitteach and see her original tweet thread with these poems; you can also check out her blog at teachlikeasquirrel.com.

black-history-month

“Southern Gothic” by Rickey Laurentiis (poem link)

ricky

Source: Poetry (November 2012)

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Get your students engaged with poetry collections with this hands-on hexagon activity!

Today’s post is brought to you by guest author Tia Miller. Tia teaches AP Literature, AP Language, AP Seminar, and Dual Credit English at Chapmanville Regional High School in southern West Virginia.  She is currently working on her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from Marshall University.

This past semester, inspired by Melissa Smith and other awesome teachers in my PLN and encouraged by some extra money to spend on books for my classroom, I decided to teach my first poetry collection. Mind you, the very notion of reading a poetry collection, personally, was a rather exceptional idea for me, much less the attempt to teach one, but I took the leap anyway and found an exciting new addition for my curriculum. Continue reading

#TeachLivingPoets Gallery Walk

Today’s blog post comes from Carrie Mattern, a high school ELA teacher in Flint, MI who has taught in Flint for the last eleven years and in Brown City, MI for her first four years of teaching. At Flint Carman-Ainsworth, Carrie greets students as freshmen in English 9 and sends them out into the real world after completing English 12. She loves to read, write, and do what most teachers do on their snow days—watch cooking shows in sweats while dreaming of becoming a travel writer.

After finding Clint Smith’s work last year on Twitter, and finally becoming a member of #TeachLivingPoets last spring, I decided that this year my weekly writing (more on that another day) would be based on all living poets with my English 12 seniors. Last year I dabbled with mostly living poets, but this year I wanted to disrupt the canon and allow students more depth with their connections and more relevance to their world. So with that stated, #TeachLivingPoets is a part of my daily classroom lessons and I have never, ever had someone is class yell, “Yay! FInally!” when I announced this philosophy to the class this fall. Continue reading

“If They Should Come For Us” by Fatimah Asghar – #TeachLivingPoets chat archive & ideas for teaching

9780525509783Teachers from all over the country gathered together virtually to discuss Fatimah Asghar’s poemIf They Should Come For Usfrom her collection If They Come For Us (Penguin Random House, 2018). I taught this poem to my on-level American Lit juniors and AP Literature seniors the week prior to the chat, and found it to be an extremely successful poem with my students, offering them opportunities for rich conversation and deep analysis. This post will provide you with an archive of the chat, and an explanation of how I went about teaching the poem in my classes. Continue reading